Safety Matters

Photo taken by a GMIHC member on two-track road early on June 30, 2013 during test-fire operations.
Photo taken by a GMIHC member on two-track road early on June 30, 2013 during test-fire operations.

At the end of last year, I had the privilege of working with Wildland Fire Associates on a report. It was just one small report. All I did was spruce up their graphics and provided a map. I also helped out a bit with the editing.

Regardless of how little I contributed, the report content made me feel as if I was participating on something significant. I approached the project with humility and respect.

Based on that report’s findings, on December 4th, 2013, the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) issued several citations to the Arizona State Forestry Division (ASFD) for events that led to the deaths of 19 firefighters on the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013.

On the Yarnell Hill Fire, a series of very unfortunate incidents and rapid-fire decisions put lives in danger – as they do in every wildland fire incident. However, how we approach each new challenge determines if that danger will be safely mitigated.

In an attempt to keep the national conversation on safety issues and in response to the Yarnell Hill Fire catastrophe, Wildland Fire Associates has created a Facebook page to focus on meaningful changes in firefighter safety.

Whether you agree with ADOSH’s decision to cite ASFD, and whether or not those citations will elicit changes in the fire fighting community, talking about what safety issues we need to address will guide us all towards a safer future. If you are a wildland firefighter, please join us at Safety Matters: A Wildland Firefighter Forum for Change.